AFL Round 4 – Melbourne v GWS: Giant Hearts Can’t Be Broken

Travelling interstate to support your club is a sign that you are a diehard. It’s a long and expensive trip.

At the game, the visiting supporters are a small pocket, vastly outnumbered by the locals, a small oasis of your team’s colours in a desert of opposition colours.

You rarely win. A home team will nearly always beat a visiting interstate club.


And when you support a team that has won two games ever, the odds are against a win when travelling interstate.

But this time, GWS Giants had a chance. They were up against Melbourne.


The problems plaguing the Demons have been well-documented. Several poor seasons in a row have taken their toll.

The club had been fined after a tanking investigation. Several seasons of poor drafting and player exodus. The CEO had gone, the coach under fire.

And during the week, the Demons were implicated in the Dank doping scandals. The club doctor had fallen on his sword.

The Demons had copped some beltings in the first three rounds, and the discontent among their supporters had been clear. But a touch over 20,000 turned up to the MCG for this game.


There were some Giants fans there. Some of us had flown down from Sydney, while the Giants have also picked up some Melbourne-based fans.

Our seats were behind the goals at the Ponsford end. The Giants were kicking our way in the first quarter. And the game was just a few seconds old and already we had something to celebrate.

Setanta O’hAilpin, discarded by Carlton and drafted by the Giants, played one game last year but was struck down by a knee injury. This was his return game, and just a few seconds into the game, he marked and goaled.


But the Demons received a lift, literally, as Jeremy Howe flew for a speckie. Howe, not the most reliable footballer but a superb entertainer, put another highlight into his resume as he stood on the shoulders of the Giant defenders to pull down the mark of the day.


The Demons took the lead and would hold it for the remainder of the first term. But the Giants took the upper hand in the second term to find themselves in front.

Tom Scully, whose defection from Melbourne to the Giants caused much angst among the Demons, was getting involved in the play. Every time Scully touched the ball, the Demons fans booed; and they had plenty to boo as Scully picked up plenty of possessions and scored a long-range goal to give the Giants the lead.


The Giants were on fire in the third quarter, and spirits were on the rise. O’hAilpin boosted his tally to five goals, and every time there was a contest around the ground, a Giant would emerge with the ball.

Tom Scully was getting plenty of the ball, and so was Adam Treloar. Jonathan Giles moved up forward and kicked a goal, and Rhys Palmer was becoming increasingly influential.

Most of the ground was stunned into silence, as their worst fears looked set to be realised. But the Giants fans were in voice.

Some of them were dressed up as monks, one as Fred Flintstone. Most were in orange club merchandise.

The cheer squad waved their flags and got chants going. The cheer squad capo standing, turning to the crowd, raising his arms and pleading for the crowd to join in, as the roar of “Here come the Giants” echoed around the MCG.

By three-quarter time, the Giants were out to a 19-point lead; and hope was growing that the upstarts, less than two seasons old, would storm the fortress of the 150-year-old traditional powerhouse.


But it wasn’t to be. The Giants had given their all for three quarters, but had nothing more to give.

The Demons emerged full of running, playing with a spirit that hadn’t been at all evident this season. Players barely sighted for three quarters began to get the ball.

The Demons raced the ball forward. The first attempt was a false start, with the video replay showing the ball just shaving the post. But the Melbourne goals soon flowed and within minutes the Demons had taken the lead.

And the Melbourne crowd, in silent shock for three quarters began to find their voice.

“You only sing when you’re winning” sang the Giants capo, before trying to lift the Giants’ fans to another chant. But the Demons were winning.

The momentum had swung; and there was nothing any GWS coach, player or fan could do to hold back the tide. After the trials and tribulations that had plagued the Demons for so long, they had a sniff of victory and weren’t letting go.


The clock ticked into time-on, and the trickle of Melbourne goals had become a flood. The Melbourne bugle in the MCC, placed in silent storage for so long, was brought out of hibernation as the Demon fans anticipated the final siren.

For the Demons, it was not just their first competition points of the year; but the restoration of hope to an embattled club.

But for us Giants fans, it was a win that got away. A harsh lesson for the young and inexperienced Giants.


The Giants will learn from this and bounce back. There are some great kids at the club, who are growing up to become Giants.

But the ability to run out a game for four quarters is something that needs to be learned. To not panic when under the pump, as they did during the final quarter.

The first three quarters show what’s possible. The last quarter shows what to avoid.


This wasn’t the Giants’ first win in Melbourne. But it’s coming. Sooner than the sceptics may think.

About Michael Shillito

GWS Giants foundation member and cheer squad member. It's been quite an adventure so far, and the best is yet to come.

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